Sunday, June 19, 2005

Video record your home

Some families leave the maid alone at home. There is the risk that the maid can bring in strangers to the home.

Here is a simple way to take care of this problem. Install a camera with a DVD recorder. Record the view of the entrance throughout the day.

When you return home, you can use 32X speed to view the happenings in your home. This can be done in 15 minutes. Any visitor can be spotted easily.

You do not need to do this all the time. If the maid is aware about the recording, the maid will not take the risk. It will be a useful deterent.


WhiteOut said...

My friend's household recently had to change a maid, because she thought she was constantly being observed and filmed while she worked at home. She became worked up and decided to leave the household.

Truth is, the camera in question is a webcam my friend uses to communicate with me while I'm studying overseas.

Do maid agencies and the Ministry of Manpower allow / encourage wiring your house with cameras? It serves as a good legal protection, but is it healthy for the workplace / household?

Anonymous said...


Nobody likes being watched while at work, even for maids. I am sure that some of us in finance sector are already uneasy with ccd camera eyeing us while we deal.

That being said, Mr Tan's suggestion is to have just the main entrance wired up to ccd camera. The maid is not monitored in the house. The system only tracks who is entering and leaving the house. The corridor is a public place and so ccd camera will not run into legal problem.

However, like what i have said in the 10th comment in the tread " give maid a day off", the fact that we employ maid which are from indonesia and india, makes the education about the functioning dificult and almost impossible. After several tries to let the maid understands how the entrance camera works, i think if she asks to leave, you should take the opportunity to employ a filipino maid.


Anonymous said...

Much can be debated about your suggestion.

No doubt it is useful for its purpose of monitoring outsiders' entry, but in my opinion, I feel that the very act of putting up such a device brings about undesirable repercussions as well.

It may just dilute the warmth of the owners as employers towards the domestic worker, and consequently prevents her to work to her fullest capacity for them. In other words, I am saying that the device acts as a barrier between the domestic worker and her employers. Instead of being incorporated (or made to feel) as part of the family by living and eating with them daily, she will be perpetually reminded of her agenda and status in the residence. Somewhat unequal to the extent that a home needs surveillance in any form.

The 'private' space for her employers and herself to live in becomes a 'public' space for her, as her employers undertook recording as a measure to draw the line. I find it rather unhealthy because in her position, she lives in where she works. On the contrary, most of us have the luxury to go back to our 'privacy' away from where we work, after we have performed our required roles for the day.

I understand that you only meant the recording of what goes on at the door. However, I argue that the very presence of the device may not be as simply read and interpreted by the domestic worker. I suggest this method be only employed as a drastic measure when all trust and understanding has reached a certain threshold. If the situation is still tolerable, such a measure should not be considered an option due to the multiple drawbacks that come with its alleged usefulness.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

The correct way of implementing TKL's idea is to have the camera installed before the maid starts work.

If you start taking your precautionary measures from Day One, then the maid will not feel offended.

For example, if from Day One you have always had the habit of locking the master bedroom when you leave your house, the maid will not feel offended when you do so. She will just take it as your normal practice / habit.

On the other hand, if you start doing this only two or three months after she starts work, she may feel that you do not trust her. And if she is an honest person, she will feel somewhat aggrieved.

WhiteOut said...

Fair enough, to have it before employing the maid would allow the maid to think that it's a security feature that the household has implemented (similar to a fire alarm).

And since the concern here is what she'd do outside the house and not what's inside, the camera would be able to track how many times she'd leave the house should she intend to lie and meet friends without permission.

In legal (and insurance) sense it's quite effective. No doubt there still remains a level of distrust, unhealthy in any working environment, even if the camera is seen at a wider angle as a security feature and not a maid surveillance equipment. Good point.

Michael Yeo said...

I lives in a private apartment with an entrance and a rear door. The latter was a statutory requirement by the then Fire Safety Bureau (now known as SCDF)as a means of escape.

One wee morning, one of the resident's domestic helper let her companion into the unit via the rear door while the employers and their children were asleep.

Coincidentally, a member from the neighbour saw the incident and told his neighbour about it the following morning. As we all know, domestic helpers would never admit unless caught red handed.

2 days later, her employers pretended to go to bed but they were actually alert. Unfortunately, she was caught red-handed, police was called and she was sent home the next morning.

As this is a typical problem in my estate, my estate MC has with the unanimous endorsement of the subsidiary proprietors to allow the latter to install survellience camera system at the common lobby in the direction of the entrance and rear doors but have to be at the same spot for consistencies.

This is then link to the recorder in the house that can record for a certain duration of time. Even the VCR in my hall can record up to several days.

An additional tiny survellience camera can also be placed in a strategic and hidden location in the unit hall or dining area to capture activities of the domestic helper when the employers and children are out of the house or on oversea holidays.

I have another VCR and TV in my room that I can view the tape/s.

Even if any home owner will to install the system in the presence of the domestic helper, it will not make her uncomfortable as it is for security measures.

Tan Kin Lian said...

I am glad to have a healthy exchange of views.

It is clear that the solution will have to be modified according to circumstances.

As the owner, we have the right to protect our property. Installing a camera at the door is a necessary precaution.

If the maid does not accept this right, it is better to change the maid.

K.S. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
K.S. said...

I am not aiming the question at anybody in particular. Rather I will like to post for everyone to ponder.

Do the senior management employ some personnel into the company and start spying on what they do? Or should these senior staff trust these personnel or rather have trust in their judgment that they did not employ the wrong person? We don't spy on subordinates' whereabout or action, do we?

Likewise, maids are also human and employee, for goodness sake! They are here to work simply because they have had to sacrifice their 'freedom' and family-life to come to a strange country to toil so that their families out there in those poorer countries can live better! Isn't that a noble sacrifice?

Therefore, I have to condemn those people who do not trust the people they employ to work under. As Cao Cao said "If you distrust, do not use the person. If you use the person, do not distrust!"

Angela Lau. said...

this leads us to the question of showing respect to the maid by respecting her privacy. its not ethical to begin with treating your maids like they have something to hide. but of cos, we've heard too many stories about maids and their little activities.

do a search on the census and statistics. abusive owners more OR straying maids more?

im sure there are more abusive owners than maids who stray

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